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Working Space: A conceptualisation of teachers’ professional learning in innovation contexts

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David Leat


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This article argues that in many countries, but particularly England, teachers are constrained by centralised education policy and accountability, which leaves them living professional lives full of contradiction. Drawing on evidence from a succession of research projects which have focused significantly on professional learning and curriculum/pedagogic innovation, and a range of literature, I argue that the certain conditions can begin to free teachers from the worst of these constraints and encourage them to resolve some of the contradictions. These conditions are conceptualised as working space, which allows teachers to think and act at variance to the dominant discourse and be more creative. At a surface level, working space requires permission from leaders, stimulating ideas, collaboration with peers and some resources, but at a deeper level it requires dialogue, tools and a deepening of relationships. Working space inevitably has borders and it is argued that those exercising leadership in school that seek some aspect of transformation have to give regard to those borders, to tools and to relationships.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Leat D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Submitted

Journal: Professional Development in Education

Year: 2013

Notes: Accepted with minor revisions